Taco Joint - restaurant or River North outpost of an upscale Señor Frogs? There’s definitely a little bit of both going on here. We’re not saying the food at Taco Joint is on the same level as Señor Frogs - that's a high bar to meet. But neither place is getting crowned the next great Mexican restaurant anytime soon.
At $3 to $4 apiece, the tacos at Taco Joint are fairly cheap, and we concede this is one of the only places in River North where you can get a casual sit down meal at a reasonable price. But we aren’t willing to concede it’s a good idea unless for some reason you're stuck in this neighborhood. There’s a reason Taco Joint seems to be a haven for people capitalizing on Groupon and Gilt City vouchers - you need some extra enticement to get in the door.
The space is big and warehouse-like with a few brightly painted walls and a whole lot of different tequilas on the shelves. And it’s these factors that give it the Señor Frogs vibes, minus the part where Señor Frogs actually starts to get fun. That’s because Taco Joint perpetually feels like 7:30 pm at everybody’s favorite Bahamas spot - the day party is over, the night party hasn’t begun, and you’re sipping on margaritas patiently waiting for things to pop off. But there will be no popping off happening here, because you’re past your glory days and the limbo is a horrible idea.
If you need a spot to load up on average food and margaritas with your friends on the River North cheap, then sure, by default this is your spot. Just don't expect much more than that. And certainly don't expect to recreate that one awesome dinner you had on high school spring break, because no night out will ever be that enjoyable again.
Al Pastor Taco
Marinated grilled chicken with tomatillo salsa, onion, cilantro, and caramelized pineapple. We’re not really into the al pastor chicken thing, and overall this taco is subpar. (I would point out here that al pastor is usually pork and chicken al pastor sounds awful)
Cured scallops, lemon-serrano vinaigrette, avocado, cucumber, and pico de gallo. All the ingredients of ceviche are there, but the parts don't come together very well. Not a fan of this taco.
Pulled pork with habanero salsa and pickled red onions. The bit of spice from the habanero’s gives it some good heat and flavor, but the meat itself still tastes dry even with the sauce.
Generic beer battered tilapia with a chile coleslaw. Not the worst, but also not particularly good.
Steak Monterrey Taco
Grilled sirloin with onions and blistered serrano peppers. It’s a single piece of sirloin on a flour tortilla with some veggies. Your safest bet.
Rice ‘N Beans
The green poblano rice has a bit of a kick, but the chipotle black beans taste like they’ve been sitting around all day. Pass.